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March 29, 2009 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Eggplant, Spice, and Everything Nice

I may be addicted to eggplant.  I have loved eggplant from the moment I tried it, and I just read that eggplant contains nicotine.  So when I say I may be addicted to eggplant, I am not kidding.  I am always in a quest to find more recipes for eggplant.

Today I heated some olive oil in a large pan, chopped up some big hunks of garlic and tossed them in.  I chopped up a large eggplant and threw that in too.  Some people like to salt and rinse eggplant, but I never do.  Next I added some grape tomatoes and salted the whole mess, and cooked it over high heat until the eggplant was delightfully stringy. 

I topped it with mint flakes and feta cheese.  I wanted basil, but I cannot find any in my cavernous spice cabinet.  I chose mint because it’s a good Mediterranean spice.  The feta cheese I almost left out, because a few weeks ago my baby got carsick and barfed up an entire bottle of milk that had transformed itself into…feta cheese.  Of course she did this on a curvy, dangerous mountain section of the interstate so I couldn’t pull over and fix the mess.  The rest of the ride was torture.  I didn’t think I would ever eat feta again.  But I have a very strong stomach, so I put feta on my eggplant dish.  And then with each bite I had to think about puppies instead of what I was really thinking about, the aftermath in the back seat of my car.

The above paragraph is an example of why I can never have a popular food blog.

Back to spice cabinets.  Years from now, when cyborgs have completely taken over Earth, cyborg-archaeologists are going to dig up the remains of our kitchens and assume we were all into witchcraft.  They will determine this from the miniature bottles of powders and flakes they find.  You might think, “oh, but they are part machine, won’t they be able to look up the history of Homo sapiens and know that we used spices for cooking?”  I would agree with this but I am sure that whoever writes the assembly code for the cyborgs will inadvertently leave a logic error, preventing the cyborgs from having any common sense.  To paraphrase Crisitunity from a recent post of hers, “won’t someone please give birth to John Connor already?”

I have spices that I never used but bought them because I was absolutely certain I was going to make enough wild and exotic meals over the next couple of years to justify the price.  I think I have a bottle of File that I have never used.  I recently started to use garam masala on a somewhat frequent basis, so that is finally going away.  But the old standbys that I have to purchase over and over and over are:

  • garlic powder
  • basil
  • cumin

Most things I just add garlic and pepper to.  If you get too crazy with the spices, you can seriously mess up food.  You will rarely screw up food if you just stick to garlic and pepper.  Once you get the hang of garlic and pepper, you can then begin to branch out into the crazy stuff, like turmeric.  But good grief, read about what it’s for before just willy-nilly dyeing your food (and usually your countertops) a bright yellow.

I have no idea what this post is supposed to be about.

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9 Comments

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  1. Lizinka / Feb 22 2010 4:48 pm

    ok…I just googled “addicted to eggplant” and got you : )

  2. megan / Apr 6 2009 8:16 pm

    I haven’t decided where eggplant stands in my repertoire. I certainly like it, but I’m not sure if I *love* it. The best I ever had was at a Moroccan restaurant years ago, mixed in a jumble of tomatoes and spices. I do make a mean Eggplant Parmesan, though…

    I’m kind of a stickler for fresh garlic, so I rarely have garlic powder at home. I find myself buying cumin, chili powder and Goya Sazón quite often. I make a lot of Mexican and Central American food.

  3. Romi / Apr 5 2009 9:25 pm

    That sounds so delicious and yet so foreign to me! We always had eggplant in our garden growing up and I was intimidated by these giant purple objects. I never quite understood how my mother picked them from the garden and incorporated them into Indian dinner “end products”, so I may have eaten more eggplant in my life than I even know of 😉

  4. MamaPeg is Watching Out for You / Apr 4 2009 6:32 am

    This is really scary. AFter readng your post, I started to go through my spice drawer – yes, I have a drawer of spices. Well, I found spices that I had bought, um, more years ago than I can remember. The stores where I bought them are closed or were bought by other grocery store chains many times over. I think it’s safe to say that I have some spices that might be considered antiques. I’m trying to decide whether I should donate them to the Smithsonian or just bury them in my back yard. This is a dilemma no one should face.
    Oh and I love eggplant as well – I grew some last summer. mmm, tasty.

  5. David / Apr 3 2009 4:55 pm

    This post made me drool, but in a good way, so thanks Maleesha. (Except for the cheesy baby puke part 😦 Good for you for getting over it. Feta cheese is too good to not eat.)

    But eggplant is the bestest food ever — my most favorite fruit! We have two little ones in the fridge right now. I will cook them soon. Not sure how yet. Your recipe sounds yum and I think we might have some pesto in the freezer. We might even have some feta. Mmmmmm.

  6. smalltownsmalltimes / Mar 30 2009 7:12 am

    I love cumin, too. Instant smokey outdoor taste. Yum.

    Meanwhile, bothering me is the $10 bottle of cardamom pods I bought for some very mediorce Indian dish I will never make again, and the $7 bottle of organic sage my husband bought and never used for a night he was doing the cooking — never mind that we have a sage bush the size of a pig in our garden. If you have good recipies for either of these, please forward.

    Poor feta cheese.

    Cardamom is good if you learn to make Arabic coffee, you could use it up pretty fast that way. Sage, I rub on anything pork or turkey. I have an expensive bottle of lemongrass that I need to use.

  7. Paloma Pentarian / Mar 30 2009 2:37 am

    After years of using different eggplant recipes, I don’t salt eggplant slices first either. It takes too much time,and makes things too salty.

    I really enjoyed this post. Don’t forget about you can chop up and fry eggplant chunks, mix them with cooked mushrooms (and or cooked zucchini or carrots) in a red spaghetti sauce in place of meat, and serve over pasta, too!

    I had no idea that eggplant had caffeine! I’ll have to check this out (not tha it bothers me, I’m just surprised!).

    Paloma Pentarian (you know me from some of my other blogs)

  8. teeni / Mar 29 2009 9:01 pm

    LOL! I have to buy garlic powder in the large spice containers because I go through it quite a bit as well and also onion powder, oregano, basil, and cayenne pepper. But I’m getting brave in my old age and trying new things. I love tumeric (well, it doesn’t hurt that it is supposed to be good at preventing tumors). 🙂 I love eggplant too. I don’t care what this post was supposed to be about – it was fun! 🙂

  9. nat @ book, line, and sinker / Mar 29 2009 5:20 pm

    spices totally freak me out. we have salt and ketchup. those are staples of the cuisine here. (oh, and husban-dito has a stash of red pepper flakes and black pepper. ewww).

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